Friday, January 20, 2017

Holbrook line: Gregory Belcher, Immigrant 1606-1674

Another immigrant, another set of questions...At least we have some answers to some questions for this man.  It appears most likely that he was the son of Thomas Belcher, and was baptized on March 30, 1606 at Wardend, Aston, Warwickshire, England.  His mother was probably Deborah Hunt Belcher, although that doesn't seem to be as accepted as does the name of his father.  Wardend is now part of Birmingham, which is an industrial city now.  However, when the Belchers lived there it was just a small village with an old church, and seems to have been a farming or sheep-raising area.

We don't know when Gregory decided to come to America.  He is sometimes said to have come with Winthrop's fleet in 1630, although the first mention I've found for him is in 1637.  By this time  he is in Braintree, Massachusetts Bay Colony.  He married Catherine Allcock, daughter of John and Alice Allcock on December 11, 1627.  As far as I can tell, no one has yet located the birth records for their early children.  Likely some, perhaps the first four, were born in England and at least the last three births were recorded in Boston.  "Samuel the sonne of Gregorie Belshar was borne 24th day, 6th month, 1637," with Mary following in 1639 and Joseph in 1641.  I'm not an expert by any means but it seems to me that if Samuel's birth was recorded in Boston he was likely born either in Boston or on the ship coming over, so Gregory and Catherine may have been here earlier than some have been willing to state.

In 1670 he and his son in law, Alexander Marsh, purchased the iron works with 200 acres of land in Braintree.  Perhaps the iron works helped support Gregory as he aged, or perhaps this was a way that he could help his son in law get established and support his family. 

Gregory died November 25, 1674 and his widow presented the inventory on January 29, 1675.  By hard work, smart land acquisitions, blessings and luck, he had acquired an estate valued at 629 pounds, 5 shillings. (He had also given at least one farm to a son, in this case, Joseph, in 1664.) While this would not have made Gregory a rich man, it was enough to comfortably provide for his family.  Catherine died in the spring of 1680.

One bit of information that I found that I haven't seen mentioned elsewhere was that on August 31, 1657, "Andrew Rounsimon a Scott servant to Gregory Belchere dyed" in "Brantrey".  I would love to know more of Andrew's story.  Did he come to Massachusetts voluntarily, or was he forced by the English government?  Was he an indentured servant?  Was he a young boy, or an old man, or somewhere in between?  There weren't a lot of our early immigrants known to have servants, so this is intriguing.

The line of descent is:

Gregory Belcher-Catherine Allcock
Joseph Belcher-Urania (Ranis) Raynsford
Elizabeth Belcher-John Paine
Stephen Paine-Sarah Vallett
Stephen Paine-Sarah Thornton
Nathan Paine-Lillis Winsor
Deborah Paine-Enos Eddy
Joseph Brown Eddy-Susan Lamphire
Susan Eddy-Hiram Stanard
Louis Stanard-Mary Alice Hetrick
Etta Stanard-Loren Holbrook
Gladys Holbrook-Richard Allen
Their descendants